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Belles Power Past Yellow Jackets

Maya Cole (left) hugs Emily Stross (right) after Stross scored her first collegiate goal.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Four first-half goals were more than enough as the Saint Mary's soccer team went on to defeat visiting Defiance by a 6-1 margin at home on Tuesday evening.
The Belles held possession for large stretches of play in the first half against the Yellow Jackets. After a promising combination of passes came just shy of producing a goal, Saint Mary's got on the scoreboard in the 12th minute. Sophia Fleming gained possession of the ball just inside the Belles' defensive end of the field on the left side, and the freshman played a pass centrally to Megan Saunders. Saunders then flicked a pass over the defense, and Rose Stackhouse timed her run perfectly to collect the pass and bury the ball for the quick lead.
Scoring chances in the 17th and 24th minutes did not yield a goal, but Saint Mary's continued to apply the pressure to the Defiance midfield and back line. A switch of the field from left to right saw Emily Stross chase down a ball just outside the box on the right flank. The freshman sent a well-placed cross toward the far post, and Becca Stella delivered a diving header into the back of the net for the 2-0 advantage. Kellen Hinchey scored two-and-a-half minutes later after Maya Cole touched up an indirect free kick, and Stackhouse and Cole strung together a pair of passes before Emily Stross buried a one-versus-one chance past the goalkeeper in the 37th minute to make it a 4-0 lead.
Defiance took some momentum into the halftime break after scoring a goal with 36 seconds remaining in the first period. Saint Mary's, however, continued to hold the edge in every statistical category in the second 45 minutes, including the scoreline. Jillian Bowen worked her way past several defenders along the left side of the 18-yard box before burying a near-post shot in the 63rd minute. Ten minutes later, Rose Stackhouse carried the ball up the right side of the field before sending a cross into the box. Sophia Fleming made the far-post run and sent a header back across the mouth of the goal and inside the right post for the 6-1 lead in the 73rd minute.
Saint Mary's out-shot Defiance by a 21-10 margin and had 13 shots on goal to the Yellow Jackets' four. The Belles registered four corner kicks and did not concede a corner in the contest.
"Maya's distribution was brilliant tonight," said head coach Jesse Urquhart. "Her decision-making was very good and made the match simple for others around her. I'm thrilled to have Becca and Sophia score tonight. Wingbacks with the ability to make good decisions and get involved in our attack is exciting and something we've worked on tactically all season. They add another dimension to our ability to attack."
Rose Stackhouse tallied her team-leading seventh goal of the year while also registering three assists. Becca Stella scored her first collegiate goal, which also proved to be the game-winner for the Belles. Emily Stross also recorded her first collegiate goal while collecting an assist. Kellen Hinchey, Jillian Bowen, and Sophia Fleming each scored a goal. Maya Cole posted two assists, and Megan Saunders and Fleming added an assist each.
Kam Lewkowski collected her first goalkeeping win for the Belles after making three saves over the first 74-plus minutes of play. Thallia Robles did not face a shot on goal while closing out the final 15-plus minutes of action.
The Belles (4-1) are on the road this weekend for a pair of games. Saint Mary's begins a four-game stretch of away contests with a match at Concordia University Wisconsin on Saturday starting at 1:00 p.m. CDT.